Maya Smock, an aspiring author, grew up in an orphanage and foster homes. Used and abused, she entered adulthood early taking a job at a Las Vegas booMaya Smock, an aspiring author, grew up in an orphanage and foster homes. Used and abused, she entered adulthood early taking a job at a Las Vegas bookstore by day and writing her novel, “The Master Race,” at night.
When Maya’s book was finished she met a literary agent at a Las Vegas convention. Claude Kazinsky, agent for Tatum, Boyle, and Shapiro loved it. After publication, Maya kept her promise to her bookstore boss, Eric O’Reilly, and held her first book-signing event at his establishment; which was a huge success.
Not only did Maya meet Claude, who she soon married, but she also became friends with Jay McCallister, a science fiction writer with credentials of the likes of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, or Arthur C. Clarke. He was huge and he took Maya under his wing.
Thus begins Dina Rae’s science fiction thriller, The Best Seller. Rae tells her story in two perspectives. First, there’s the story that begins during the summer of 1947 at Broom Lake, Nevada. Written in the third person omniscient point of view, we see a top-secret military installation where four coffins are sent to the base’s underground laboratory to be studied by Nazi scientists rescued by Americans after World War II. Their goals and objectives could freeze blood to its core.
Then Rae switches to Maya’s story letting her relate it in the first person narrative. We see Maya changing from a minimum waged employee living in humble surroundings in a bad neighborhood to owning a mansion in Vegas and a condo in Los Angeles.
The Best Seller is plot driven with a thrilling story line that will keep readers turning pages until the final climax. My only concern was that a few sub-plots were not resolved leaving me waiting until Rae has the sequel published. ...more
According to Anita Valle in the second book of the Dark Fairy Tale Queen Series, Sneaky Snow White, Snow White was no angel. Though we’d like to thinkAccording to Anita Valle in the second book of the Dark Fairy Tale Queen Series, Sneaky Snow White, Snow White was no angel. Though we’d like to think of her as an innocent young woman fleeing for a life threatened by an evil queen, Valle goes beyond the veil of legend and reveals a darker side to Snowy. In this version of the Grimm Brother’s fairy tale, Snow White’s evil stepmother is Cinderella, and each plots the other’s death.
Snow White’s father wasn’t really a kind-hearted prince. He used and abused women mercilessly. After Snowy’s mom died of mysterious causes, the handsome prince was in need of a spouse to handle his bratty daughter and provide him with a male heir.
After his untimely death, Cinderella became queen inheriting a magical mirror sitting in a secured castle chamber. This mirror could not only see into the past, but acted as an eye to her kingdom so she could see events happening in real time.
Using first person narrative, Valle unfolds Snow White’s story through the eyes of a spoiled princess whose only desire is to capture the heart of her beloved Hunter while staying as far away from Cinderella as possible, for the evil queen just wants Snowy dead so she can secure the reign of the kingdom for herself.
Vale has fun relating Snow White’s story twisting the original into a pretzel while producing an entertaining version that would make Disney roll over in his grave.
Sneaky Snow White is an exciting read for Vale’s YA audience and any reader who enjoys a re-telling of a Grimm story....more
Effie is a tree squirrel that recently lost her mother to a vicious predator. She lives alone in a nest of twigs, leaves, and strWonderful animal tale
Effie is a tree squirrel that recently lost her mother to a vicious predator. She lives alone in a nest of twigs, leaves, and straw high up in a tree. She fears Major, the owl, who she is sure ate her mother. The only animal scarier than Major, is Buteo, the hawk.
The little squirrel did have friends like Mr. Nibbler, the porcupine. Effie made sure she didn’t get too close to him. And then there’s the otter family who lives in a comfy den looking out over a turbulent river.
A.T. Baron’s delightful story, A Tale of Two Squirrels, reveals to young readers the difficulties animals encounter in the wild. Baron takes notice of the tragedies in their lives, but focuses mainly on the joys of life and how those lives are enhanced with the camaraderie of others.
Written in the third person narrative, Baron, a sketch artist as well as a talented author, also entertains her readers with sketches of squirrels, a shrew, an owl, and more. A Tale of Two Squirrels is a fun read for children of all ages.
Review copy provided via Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.
Hold on to your hats! James M. Corkill’s novel, Gravity, book 4 in the Alex Cave Series, will keep you breathlessly turning pages as protGravity Kills
Hold on to your hats! James M. Corkill’s novel, Gravity, book 4 in the Alex Cave Series, will keep you breathlessly turning pages as protagonist Alex Cave, a geophysicist, and his best friend, Okana investigate an unusual geological study reported to Alex by the Director of the Nordic Volcanological Center. In Iceland, at the end of one of the volcanoes’ ancient lava tubes, Alex and Okana discover an alien device that can make havoc with gravity.
Back at home in Montana, Alex, whose day job is a college professor, has a very annoyed live in girlfriend, Fala, who has had it with Alex’s mysterious disappearances. It seems that Alex works on the side as a secret agent for the CIA and other covert government agencies, which Fala knows little to nothing about.
On this new mission the world is literally dependent on Alex and Okana’s success or else Armageddon will be upon us.
With an easy-to-read writing style in the third person narrative, James M. Corkill’s newest edition to The Alex Cave Series won’t disappoint fans. And don’t worry about missing the other three books in the series. This novel stands alone very nicely without having knowledge of the back-story of the previous books.
**Review copy provided via Reading Alley in exchange for an honest review.**...more
In the style of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of "The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings," Karlene Price brings fantasy romance readers "The Half-Elven MurIn the style of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of "The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings," Karlene Price brings fantasy romance readers "The Half-Elven Murders." Like Tolkien, Price creates a world inhabited by many intelligent species like Elves, Xyls, and Humans living in a precarious peace.
This peace is shattered when Jez, a prostitute in Madam Kierstan Galliaire's House of Pleasures is brutally murdered. The authorities show up, but refuse to investigate leaving Kierstan no choice but to play detective to bring justice to her friend. To make matters more complicated for Kierstan, her old flame, Trey Katorain and their seventeen-year old son, Shayne, who she hasn't seen since birth, show up to hinder her ability to concentrate on the investigation.
Price does an amazing job of world building, character development, and weaving together a complex plot that's resolved in an exciting and surprising conclusion....more
Emily Sanders, age 14, spends her summer vacation working at a bed and breakfast along the Appalachian Trail in Winton, North Carolina. Gigi Baird, anEmily Sanders, age 14, spends her summer vacation working at a bed and breakfast along the Appalachian Trail in Winton, North Carolina. Gigi Baird, an elderly woman dependent on her guests for sustenance, runs Baird’s Den. Emily was referred to the job by her best friend, Mary Carnell, Ms. Gigi’s granddaughter.
From day one, Emily proves her resourcefulness when she helps rescue a guest injured by a loose board on Baird’s Den’s back steps. Later, a septic tank starts smelling real bad followed by a bee infestation, and finally a fire in a tool shed. Emily suspects foul play and begin to connect the events to sabotage, but best friend Mary thinks Emily has a wild imagination.
With cold logic, a bit of science Emily learned in school, and good reasoning skills, she slowly uncovers a mystery that Mary starts to believe, but may end Emily’s sleuthing days, permanently.
Author Gail Hedrick has created a believable mystery, which Emily and friends look into to stop the closure of Baird’s Den. Through the eyes of Emily Sanders, the author does a wonderful job of developing believable characters, a beautiful setting, and realistic plot.
The Scent of Something Sneaky is a fun read for mystery lovers of any age. And if you enjoy this newest edition of the Emily Sanders Mysteries, you’ll love Something Stinks. ...more
I find that many authors of YA series books fail to end their novels. They tend to leave the plots up in the air hoping a reader will plunk down a fewI find that many authors of YA series books fail to end their novels. They tend to leave the plots up in the air hoping a reader will plunk down a few more bucks to buy book 2 or 3.
I hate that!
So when I wrote the Koolura Series I made sure each book had a satisfying ending. However, I also made sure a few strings tied the novels to nudge readers gently to pursue reading book 2 or 3.
Donnielle Tyner understands this way of thinking. In Lost: The Caelian Cycle (Book 1) she builds an excellent plot, develops superb characters, and ends with a satisfying conclusion that doesn’t beg readers to pursue the second installment of The Caelian Cycle due in the fall of 2015.
Tyner develops the world of Lost expertly. In 1916, during the great World War, a meteorite struck during a small skirmish. Its dust enveloped surviving soldiers altering their DNA providing them with a Talent. Some could manipulate sound, light, fire, a life force, or have great strength or speed. The future off spring from these troops spread quickly throughout the planet becoming known as Caelian. If a normal couple gave birth to a Caelian child, the child would be given up to a special orphanage, where the children would be raised to learn to control their Talents.
Sadie was one of those children. Abandoned at birth by her mother, Sadie was raised at the Saint Vincent’s Orphanage where her family becomes her friends. Now, at 17, Sadie’s Talent is about to be realized, but she will soon find out that her gift could leave death in its wake.
Donnielle Tyner does a superb job of characterization. From Sadie’s first person perspective, we get to know our heroine well. We also learn to love her best friends Madison and Rebecca—two other Caelians with fascinating Talents.
Tyner moves the plot at a smooth pace taking in Sadie’s surroundings in a picturesque manner. And as stated earlier, the book ends with a satisfying conclusion leaving the reading with an urge to pick up book 2 when it arrives on Amazon in the fall of 2015. ...more
Kyle Thorning is a brilliant young physicist working as a researcher at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research where scientists probe thKyle Thorning is a brilliant young physicist working as a researcher at CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research where scientists probe the fundamental structure of the universe. Kyle’s secret project is to create a time travel machine.
Why the interest? Kyle’s dad, Max Thorning discovered a book, Account of Time Travel on Earth Using Wave Theory, and gave it to his son as a way to cope with his ADHD. The book led Max to Dr. Time, a seemingly benign alien and his Time Weaver device that sent 42 year-old Max back in time to his 16-year-old self to relive an unfulfilled life in Life II. This action created a rift in time and an alternate universe.
Throughout his life, Kyle felt he didn’t belong, so he made it his life’s goal to find out why. Thrown into the mix is an alien species, The Darsian. These intelligent creatures with four arms, four legs, and no head make first contact with humans on April 30, 2011, an event Max Thorning knows never to have happened in his previous life. The Darsians offer miracles that eliminate millions of deaths per year, but was the price worth it?
Writer Scott Spotson, author of Life II and now its sequel, Bridge Through Time does an amazing job of creating an alternate universe with believable characters, beautiful settings, and a plot that moves breathlessly until the spine tingling climax.
I had a difficult time closing my Kindle version of Bridge Through Time to perform my own writing tasks. As the author of The Koolura Series, I know how important it is to weave key events from the previous books into the new to keep readers abreast of the other novels in the series. Spotson does a superb job at this.
Spotson also shows Kyle’s ADHD with all of the psychological ramifications and idiosyncrasies that the disorder has on an adult male. Though the author tries to avoid too much scientific jargon, the little he uses is explained so any layman can understand. Now I wonder if a time machine will be invented during my lifetime.
Bridge Through Time is an exciting sci-fi read containing all the elements that will keep Spotson’s audience at the edge of their seats. ...more
All Zara Hardy remembers is being on the planet Toldax. She was an Alliance prisoner being used by the enemy of the Confederation to capture its top aAll Zara Hardy remembers is being on the planet Toldax. She was an Alliance prisoner being used by the enemy of the Confederation to capture its top agent, Kurt Stryder. Zara is perplexed how she could even be in this sterile hospital room. The Alliance agent, Pavel Norsky, had recently killed her on the planet’s surface.
Thus begins Jan Domagala’s science fiction thriller, Retribution: A Col Sec Novel. In this fourth volume of the Col Sec series, Col Sec, the security arm of the Confederation, is threatened by OMEGA, a rogue terrorist organization. Once Col Sec is out of the way, OMEGA would fill the power vacuum in the galaxy.
But first OMEGA and its battle-bred clones need to capture Kurt Stryder, for the blood flowing through his veins could be developed into an unprecedented weapon.
Throughout the novel Domagala describes futuristic technology that will excite any geek reader. For example, all Col Sec characters have Neural Interfaces (NI). These NIs are like smart phones built into the characters’ heads. The weapons used during battle are amazing as well as the star ships and transport vehicles.
The high tech explanations throughout the novel are woven in expertly as non-stop action keeps readers at the edge. As Zara is used as a pawn to capture Stryder, the twists and turns throughout this sci-fi thriller will keep readers turning pages from first to last page. ...more
In the year 437 after the Great War, the Tafel lived underground to protect themselves from the harsh surface conditions that would probably instantlyIn the year 437 after the Great War, the Tafel lived underground to protect themselves from the harsh surface conditions that would probably instantly kill a human. They barely survived in an old military installation built inside a mountain near Cape Town, South Africa. They were the only known survivors of man’s final folly.
Tafel society faced many challenges. Water had to be filtered, caves would sometimes collapse, energy was scarce, and crops needed tending. Everyone had a job, including Willem the Ghost.
One of the few white descendants of the human race, Willem faced bullying by his Shadow peers. One day, while relaxing under the heat lamps that nourished Tafel crops, Bongani, a Shadow bully, found Willem. Unfortunately for Bongani, he lost his footing and plunged to his death.
The Shadow authorities said it was murder, so Willem was expelled from the safety of their cavern home and sent out onto the surface—a death sentence.
Thus begins Hans M. Hirschi’s science fiction fantasy, Willem of the Tafel. Unbeknownst to the Tafel, Willem survived the surface, which had cleansed itself of the nuclear winter. Alone and frightened, Willem soon made a startling discovery: The Tafel weren’t the only survivors of the Great War. In the rubble of old Cape Town he meets travelers from Madagascar who had recently arrived by a sailing vessel.
In his riveting novel, Hirschi tackles important issues—racism, global warming, homosexuality, and survival. Through surprising twists and turns readers will be routing for Willem and the people he encounters outside of the Tafel.
Along the way, Willem learns about responsibility—family, no matter what, comes first, even though our happiness may lie elsewhere. Willem of the Tafel is a must read for all of us if we are to understand the meaning of a nuclear war and its aftermath....more
K’Lar and D’Ree are red-tailed hawks who have recently migrated back to Alberta, Canada from Southern Mexico for the summer. They need to find and repK’Lar and D’Ree are red-tailed hawks who have recently migrated back to Alberta, Canada from Southern Mexico for the summer. They need to find and repair their old nest so D’Ree can lay her clutch of eggs.
They fly through a city filled with noise and pollution. When they finally arrive at their valley home, all the trees are gone leaving their hunting field a swath of mud encircled by homes under construction.
Incredulous that the humans violated their own law by destroying a hawk habitat, the migratory birds fly to a farm at which they had nested many earth cycles ago. But alas, the farmer sold out to numerous developers and the area was converted into housing subdivisions centered by a hospital.
Distraught, the saddened couple moves on to another valley where they meet an aging hawk, T’Nal. He offers to share his hunting grounds with them, and just in time, too. D’Ree is about to lay her eggs.
Thus begins J.M. Sutherland’s wonderful saga, Freedom is for the Birds, a book that should be required reading by every human being. As the book evolves, we begin to understand a sophisticated hawk society based on respect for others, themselves, and Mother Nature. Unlike their human enemies, the hawk kills for survival and not for sport or revenge. Before they feast, they say, “Thank you, Mother Nature, for this meal.”
Freedom for the Birds is a fantasy with animals talking to each other and even attending classes together led by wise old owl, Griffin. Sutherland takes literary liberties to show her human audience the hawk perspective of the life they must live due to our tragic housekeeping ways.
No reader will walk away from this novel without feeling a deeper respect for the other organisms that inhabit our world. ...more
Beyond the Skyline is Alex Lane’s diary of his life after leaving Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center in Syracuse, New YorSecond Chance
By Michael Thal
Beyond the Skyline is Alex Lane’s diary of his life after leaving Hillbrook Juvenile Detention Center in Syracuse, New York. At the main gate an immaculately dressed man driving a black expensive foreign car meets him. The bearded stranger reveals himself to be Alex’s estranged brother Brandon.
Thus begins Brody Lane Gregg’s YA novel, Beyond the Skyline. Set in New York City, Gregg does an amazing job in the character study of Alex. Here is an eighteen-year-old hardened criminal who wants to turn his life around, but that means giving up control.
Brandon provides Alex with a home and family he never really had as we breathlessly watch Alex learn about love, friendship, and faith.
Alex’s diary covers the four best months of his life. Raised by an alcoholic father and drug addicted mother, Alex never knew what a stable family life was like. His brother Brandon acquired wealth the legal way introducing Alex to his wife Jen and daughter Ally.
Alex relishes his role as uncle and brother-in-law developing a healthy relationship with Jen and his niece.
Soon, Alex finds himself attending high school and making new friends including drug dealer Reuben and his girlfriend Hannah. He’s befriended by Thomas, a huge muscular boy who enjoys acting gay, but really isn’t. Other misfits he encounter include Jess, a girl he meets in Chemistry class and Analeigh, the pastor’s daughter.
Throughout the book Alex writes about his feelings for each character and his fear of reverting back to his old criminal ways.
Beyond the Skyline is a character study delving into the mind of a criminal trying to go straight. It’s an inspirational story all teens and their parents should read and discuss. ...more
Mallory Gilmartin, uprooted by divorce from her Philadelphia home, is transplanted to rural Virginia. Cedar Creek is a complete bore anA Scary Mystery
Mallory Gilmartin, uprooted by divorce from her Philadelphia home, is transplanted to rural Virginia. Cedar Creek is a complete bore and its middle school doesn’t even have a girls’ baseball team. Everything changes fast when a sports car forces the thirteen-year-old cyclist off the road and into a ditch as it speeds away from the spooky house on the hill.
Soon after, Mallory’s mom tells her about Violet Marlatt, a missing teen who disappeared 50 years ago from that mansion during a party, and was never seen again. That night, Mallory sees a flickering light in the deserted house followed by the silhouette of a girl. Could that be Violet’s ghost?
Anne Loader McGee brings us a fast paced middle school novel, The Mystery at Marlatt Manor, as teen sleuth Mallory uncovers the mystery of the missing girl and the weird people that seem to be hunting for a possible lost treasure.
Along the way, McGee introduces us to a cast of quirky characters. First, there’s Grandma Aggie, who would rather ride a motorcycle, skydive, or delve into forensic science than sit in a rocker and knit. There’s also Kyle, an 8th grade nerd who wears checkered pants; Roger Dunlop, a grumpy banker; and Albert Hampton, Marlatt Manor’s creepy caretaker.
Coupled with all this, Aggie may lose her beloved home and Mallory has strange dreams that may be the key to solving everyone’s problems, including the manor’s mystery.
If you like suspense, psychic ability, and a scary story, The Mystery at Marlatt Manor is for you. Just beware, once you start reading, you won’t be able to stop until you reach the surprising climax.